Perspective on the U.S. Election|How much does an election cost? The two parties burned $186 billion last session.

The United States is a vast country, and every election involves huge campaign expenditures, of which during the 2016 presidential and congressional elections, the Democratic and Republican parties are estimated to have spent a total of as much as $6.5 billion (about 186 billion Taiwan dollars). Although the scale of this year’s campaigning activities have been scaled back due to the Wuhan pneumonia epidemic, it is believed that the camps still spent a lot of money on canvassing.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the past five presidential elections, each candidate spent an average of about 2 billion U.S. dollars per election (about 57.2 billion Taiwan dollars), more than half of the expenditure on advertising, in which television advertising is the most “money”, for example, the Trump camp reportedly spent millions of dollars in order to broadcast ads during the Super Bowl in February football. Online advertising is also becoming increasingly important, with candidates often spending tens of millions of dollars to target voters with messages on social networking sites.

In terms of staff salaries, Hillary, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, paid nearly $85 million ($2.34 billion) to hire thousands of employees. Campaigns are also expensive, with Trump and Hillary each spending an estimated $45 million (about 1.28 billion Taiwan dollars) to canvass the country in 2016, though candidate travel costs may be lower due to this year’s Wuhan pneumonia epidemic.

Campaign memorabilia is also accounted for spending a part, for example, Trump camp last for the production of “Make America Great Again” (Make America Great Again) baseball cap, will pull out more than 3 million U.S. dollars (about 85.8 million Taiwan dollars).

On Election Day, in addition to electing the president, American voters will also elect the members of Congress who will represent them. With hundreds of candidates for congressional elections and spread across the country, the two parties have spent an average of $4 billion (about $114.4 billion) in election expenses each time in several recent congressional re-elections (including midterm elections).

In terms of sources of election funding, about one-third of the two parties’ individual contributions in 2016 were small donations of less than $200 (about $5,720), while other campaign funds came from wealthier donors, and it is estimated that less than 200 of the most “generous” wealthy individuals alone have donated about $1 billion (about $28.6 billion) to candidates in all levels of elections.

Presidential candidates and their parties usually form joint fundraising committees to attract large donations. These committees reportedly hold lavish dinners for wealthy donors, and can raise up to US$10 million (about NT$286 million) in one night.

The U.S. government has established a number of rules for campaign contributions, such as only U.S. citizens can contribute, and the limit for individual contributions directly to candidates is $2,800 (about $80,000), but the limit for contributions to political parties is more lenient. Since 2010, Super PACs, which operate independently, can collect unlimited contributions from corporations and individuals to fund political campaigns, but Super PACs cannot coordinate directly with candidates.

Unlike many other countries, the U.S. does not have a cap on election funding, and the U.S. is spending more and more on elections, with total spending by both parties on presidential and congressional elections at all levels during the 2016 election, already double that of 2000, and this year Trump and Biden are similarly splashing out money for president.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) estimates, including presidential and congressional candidates, campaign spending has reached nearly $14 billion (about 400 billion Taiwan dollars), more than the combined spending of the last two U.S. elections. The Democratic Party has spent more, about $6.9 billion ($197.5 billion), while Republican candidates or related groups have spent $3.8 billion ($108.8 billion).